Greece Outlines Necessity for Unified EU Immigration Policy
Greece has urged the EU to develop a common and more integrated immigration strategy, targeted at balancing the economic burden of accepting refugees.
The country, which just assumed the EU's rotational presidency on Wednesday, has been feeling the economic burden of sheltering asylum seekers more than most other member states. All this comes on the back of years of economic recession and soaring unemployment.
"Without safety and security we cannot have an economic recovery. We need a more integrated and effective management of the borders", said Nikolaos-Georgios Dendias, Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, quoted by Euractiv.
Greece is the main point of entry for over 50% of recorded illegal immigrants.
In recent months, hundreds of people have died trying to reach European shores. Last October, 356 African immigrants drowned when their boat capsized shortly before reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa, near Sicily.
Greece's Foreign Minister, Evangelos Venizelos was even more direct, asking the EU to "explain why a country of 10 million has to deal alone with 1.5 million refugees".
The economic crisis, coupled with the increased number of refugees in the country, has paved the way for the rise of extremist nationalist fractions in Greek politics, mainly embodied in the Golden Dawn party.
Similar anti-immigrant sentiments have been widely voiced in its northern neighbor Bulgaria as well.